Mayan Civilization Analysis

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What reasearch question(s) is/are the speaker trying to address ?

The main purpose of Dr Zender is to better translate the Mayan inscriptions which will lead to a better understanding of the Mayan civilisation.
So Dr Zender address many questions in order to complete his project, he especially works on the abbreviational convention of maya writing, because he realized that the Maya used lots of abbreviations. How did the Maya abbreviate their words ? Was there a common rule ?
This is the most obvious question, however it points out the regional differences of the language. To what extend the maya abbreviations are similar to the ones used by the Romans, Greeks, Germans even the Egyptians ?
This question helps Dr Zender to deduce the meaning
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Dr Zender uses Mayan vestiges, also Greek, Roman, German and Egyptian ones to compare, frescos, artefacts. Basically archeological remains are exploited.

What do you perceive to be the challenges they face in conducting their research ?

The first challenge is the lack of remains. Dr Zender has very few items in his possession.
Besides Dr Zender is really dependent on comparison. Indeed to be sure of a translation, it is necessary to see the word written on different vestiges with the same abbreviation but a word is rarely repeated more than once or twice with the same writing style. There are in fact many types of abbreviation. The second challenge is the difficulty of the Mayan language itself. The only document that translates the Mayan language into a modern one, competely mastered, is a sole copy of a manuscript from the 17th century made by a Spanish which ties the Spanish alphabet with Mayan supposedly equivalent sounds. So unlike the Rosetta Stone from 1844 it is impossible to be certained of this translation, especially as the original version of this document was lost.

Do they provide answers to their own questions ? If so, what are they
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Some patterns can be observed about the Mayan writing and it is conceivable to compare those with the Greek, Roman or Egyptian writings.
For instance all these civilisations used the “haplography” to abbreviate words. Haplography means that if in a word two syllables are repeated, there will be only one written.
It is really impressive to realize that beyond the spatial and chronological separations, these civilisations which never got in touch with each other used the same abbrevational method. It must be a mecanism of the human brain that makes people from different times abbreviationing words the same way to overcome a linguistic problem. A international language culture therefore emerges. Based on these comparisons it becomes easier to distinguish the Maya distinctive feature. Thus in the classic Maya writing, the more the word is predictable (because the reader has already encountered it on the same artefact), the more it will be abbreviated, the reader is indeed supposed to know

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